Absurdly Driven usually looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Things are opening up a little.
At least that's how it seems, as America begins to peek into the outside world and contemplate taking a step or two forward.
It's a dangerous process, fraught with risk.
Yet some of the businesses most severely hit are already making preparations for a radically new tomorrow. It's a difficult process, especially if competing brands all feel they should now offer the same thing.
As restaurant owners wonder how they will keep customers at least six feet apart, hotel owners contemplate where and how they might suddenly garner business.
Many of the changes they're contemplating revolve around safety and security. Some will seem strange, even borderline disturbing.
Recently, I wrote about how Hilton has already made enormous changes to its cleaning processes, in partnership with Lysol and the Mayo Clinic. It's something the chain believes will be integral to its brand.
For its part, Marriott has now expressed its vision for how its hotels will change.
We will operate a bit differently going forward.
One change may seem quite peculiar to guests, if entirely understandable.
It seems that housekeeping services during your stay may be less pronounced than housekeeping services between stays.
Personally, I've always appreciated hotel housekeeping coming in every day, cleaning and making the bed. Smooth sheets on a comfortable bed are one of the core values of a good hotel stay.
Yet now, a greater emphasis will be placed on ensuring a clinical spotlessness before you arrive and after you leave. As Skift put Sorenson's thoughts: "Housekeeping will likely occur more between stays rather than during."
The controversy over hotel cleanliness has been long and painful. Some have been exposed for omitting even the most basic hygienic gestures. This hasn't been confined to the cheaper hotels, either.
At heart, then, cleanliness will likely become one of the biggest marketing features in hospitality -- and, indeed, in many businesses beyond that.
Yet is it enough? Every hotel chain will surely offer its own, likely trademarked version of cleanliness.
For guests, this will take some readjustment. Simple things such as odor may be palpably different.
Yet cleanliness isn't the only thing the hotel business -- or any other brand where physical contact is involved -- must address.
Logic suggests more customers will drive to their destinations, rather than fly.
The expectation is, therefore, that many more visitors will be local rather than long-distance or international. Gaining their emotional enthusiasm beyond cleanliness is the first step toward deserving their loyalty.
There's little more important to a hospitality business than customers who come again and again.
In Marriott's case, of course it'll market itself aggressively in the hope of gaining maximum market share, at a time when its scale gives it considerable advantages and it can make special offers seem unusually special.
But now is the time when many businesses -- large and small -- have to consider how to fundamentally alter the experiences they offer. They're now catering to customers whose psyches have been deeply affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
First, think about what your customers really want now. It's not going to be the same as they wanted before. And it's not going to just revolve around health and safety.
Next, anticipate what elements might surprise that customer in a positive way.
Finally -- and certainly the most difficult -- find some way to still deliver the personal touch.
That is something that a new approach to cleanliness only begins to address.